(Formerly called IRIN) Journalism from the heart of crises

Government opens first university

Map of Guinea-Bissau

President Henrique Rosa has formally opened the first public university in Guinea-Bissau, nearly 30 years after the small West African country achieved independence from Portugal.

The autonomously managed university, created by a government decree in 1999, will admit its first students for a year of pre-degree course studies in January.

Until now, Guinea-Bissau relied on bursaries to send its students to foreign universities, especially in Portugal, Cuba and eastern Europe.

However, Professor Tcherno Djalo, the rector of the new Amilcar Cabral University, said at the opening ceremony on Thursday this policy had proved a failure.

He noted that about 80 percent of all Guineans educated abroad had decided to remain there to work afterwards. They therefore failed to contribute to building this desperately poor nation of 1.3 million people.

The Amilcar Cabral University, named after the founder of the PAIGC liberation movement that fought for Guinea-Bissau's independence, will offer degree courses in education, law, medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, agronomy, economics, sociology, modern languages and journalism.

Students will be required to pay fees of 15,000 CFA francs (US $26) per month - the equivalent of Guinea-Bissau's minimum wage.

A small privately-run university, the Private University of Colinas de Boe, opened its doors in Bissau in September.

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